Michael B. Jordan’s new rum line sparks controversy
Update: The rum line is being renamed, it was announced on June 23.
Michael B. Jordan's new rum line, J'Ouvert, is sparking controversy, including allegations of cultural appropriation.
The Fantastic Four and Creed star, like other celebrities, has ventured into the booze business. However, there are objections to the name because J’ouvert is the name of a festival celebrating Caribbean culture held annually in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada during Carnival — and celebrated internationally.
The packaging on the L.A.-born, New Jersey-raised Jordan's rum notes it's, "Derived from the Antellian Creole French term meaning 'daybreak,' J'OUVERT originated in the pre-dawn streets of Trinidad, as celebration of emancipation combined with Carnival season to serve as the festival informal commencements. Crafted on those same islands, J’OUVERT Rum is a tribute to the party start."
But the 2020 Sexiest Man Alive's connection to the culture is in question amid the name being trademarked by a third party, which notes: "The wording 'J'OUVERT' has no meaning in a foreign language."
There's also an issue about the attempt to trademark J'Ouvert for the rum. A Change.org petition with more than 8,500 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon calls to block the trademark, noting that the "word J'Ouvert is deeply rooted in Trinbagonian and Caribbean culture" and notes it's the name of "the annual indigenous festivities of T&T's beloved Carnival, which began in the mid-1800s when slaves were emancipated.
"It's time we love ourselves enough to stop the sale of our culture to foreign entities that do not respect or value our global contributions, and who do not support and uphold our countries in respectful, long-lasting, tangible and verifiable ways!" the petition states.
The petition calls for the filing to be dismissed — and Jordan "to do the right thing by calling this a loss."
The Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday the issue is "of extreme concern."
The local Trinidad Express newspaper reports that Jordan's rum "angers Trinis."
On social media, people are also questioning his roots and the attempt to trademark the name shared by the festival:
imagine trying to explain what jouvert is to someone and they go “oh michael b jordan rum” 😕 https://t.co/kmTtYuBRYb
— nika🦋 (@spxcyy) June 20, 2021
What’s next? A free doubles with every #JouvertRum purchase?! 🥴😭 someone point out Michael B Jordan’s Trini roots fast for me please!!! Cuz I’m not understanding this shit. Is it his grandma who makes the rum cakes??? pic.twitter.com/7Q8E1uowmU
— Hot & Unbothered 🤎 🇬🇩🇬🇾 (@AllianaSabrina) June 20, 2021
Michael B. Jordan owns rum made in Trinidad? (I’m assuming “those same islands” mean Trinidad and Tobago? idk chile) pic.twitter.com/ZGDVIGG01Y
— Cece. (@caribbean_cece) June 20, 2021
Michael B Jordan never been to jouvert or mass. But has the nerve to want to profit off West Indian culture and call it Jouvert Rum…. pic.twitter.com/RT8O3InIwm
— D.D. Aesthetic | IG:_iamdda 🇻🇨✨💅🏾🐰 (@_iamdda) June 20, 2021
There's speculation there could be a local co-owner or a partner with Trini roots making the collaboration make more sense — though issues about the trademark remain. Some are pointing to Kim Kardashian once trying to trademark "kimono" for her shapewear brand, which she later renamed "Skims."
you cannot own a tradition. you cannot trademark a tradition. capitalism pretends that these things can be private property and attempts to manage and financialize tradition. and it will always always always be vulgar to do so.
— #PettyPendergrass (@ashoncrawley) June 21, 2021
Jordan, 34, has yet to comment. The brand's Instagram is set to "private" and the website says it's coming soon.
This follows Kendall Jenner facing backlash over her 818 tequila brand. It was alleged that her skin tone was darkened for the ad campaign. She was also dressed to look like a Mexican woman.
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